Former Tearfund director turns his hand to pastoral care as new team rector for Yate
A FORMER solicitor and international director of a global charity has moved to Yate to take over as the town's new team rector.
The Rev Ian Wallace has been appointed as pastor at St Mary’s Church and will also cover St Nicholas in Abbotswood, St James in Westerleigh and St Peters in Wapley.
The 56-year-old has moved from his previous parish of Wisley with Pyrford near Woking with his wife Ruth, also 56, a religious studies teacher.
"I didn’t know really know where Yate was but the job seemed very exciting with lots of potential," said the Swindon-born reverend who was ordained after realising his calling in 2008.
"The call to ordination had been around for quite some time but I had tried to ignore it. Then our parish was without a priest and I was asked to help a bit more. I held a service for the Boys Brigade on the question who am I after Googling my own name to find a picture of a gorilla comes up.
"Afterwards my wife said to me I had answered my own question and the recognition just hit me."
Previously, Mr Wallace, who has two sons Ben, 25, and Jonathan, 22, worked as a property solicitor in London.
"It was the early 80s and I was becoming increasingly aware of the problem of refugees around the world. The thought struck me that I had it all, a job, a home, an education, and there were people out there who didn’t even a country which wanted them."
Mr Wallace accepted an administrator’s position with Christian aid charity Tearfund and travelled to Sudan in 1983 where he met his wife. Following that mission the couple went to the West African country of Guinea Bissau in 1988 for four years and later Mr Wallace became regional manager for western and central Africa covering the Rwandan genocide and conflicts in Sierra Leone and Congo. On becoming international director in 2007, he was responsible for sending aid to victims of the floods in Bangladesh, Mumbai earthquake and the Boxing Day tsunami in Asia.
"I had no intention of leaving but I am a great believer that our faith has to be lived out in the world and in practice," said Mr Wallace. "The church doesn’t exist for itself but for the sake of the whole community."
The new rector said Yate had several challenges.
"We need to adjust from being a parish church to being a church for quite a sizeable community," he said. "And St Mary’s in particular needs to have the confidence to do so.
"I would love to see more people coming to church but it is about loving people unconditionally and reaching out to people in the community."
He added: "It is a large job and an interesting and challenging one but it is going to take time."
Mr Wallace takes over from Rev David Harrex who left the parish last May to take on a new role in Cleeve.